Winners of last year’s U15 title, Corcaigh added the Munster U16 football crown to the trophy cabinet when outlasting Kerry South in yesterday’s final in the Gaelic Grounds.
“We know the potential in this squad,” said jubilant manager James McCarthy.
“You couldn’t ask anything more from them in terms of commitment and we want to see them make it up to the next step at minor.”
Some of them will make an impact at that level. Chris Moynihan’s four strikes from play into the second-half wind broke the logjam as the young Rebels put daylight between themselves and their opponents, who depended heavily on the free-taking of Killian Spillane to keep in touch. Naomh Abán’s Michael Dineen lent his strength to curb the highly-rated Liam Carey before the break and then battered a hole through the sweeper-enhanced Kingdom defence when moved up front for the second half.
Kerry South were on the wane though. Up against shield winners Clare in the first round and favourites Kerry North in the semi-finals, they never got a chance to rotate their squad and their efforts told after a tit-for-tat first half when the tank ran dry in the middle third positions.
But tactics may have played a greater part. Use of the sweeper proved an effective shield against the Corcaigh power runs from deep but, once Dineen blew it aside, Kerry paid for their shortage of players ahead of the ball.
However, if fortune had smiled on the Kingdom, they might have led rather than trailed at the break. Had they not turned their backs on two gaping goal chances, they would have left their opponents with a sizeable gap to overcome.
Striking on the break, Carey and Spillane put Kerry ahead before Damien O’Gorman, Moynihan’s free, Daniel O’Sullivan and Michael Hurley’s goal off a high catch put Corcaigh in control.
A Spillane free settled the Kingdom, Carey’s goal at the second attempt had them level and another Spillane free had them in front. But a late spurt from O’Sullivan and JP Maughan’s free left Corcaigh leading 1-5 to 1-4 at the break.
Jordan Kiely equalised on the restart but Moynihan, John Poland and another two from Moynihan stamped Corcaigh’s dominance before Spillane replied with a free. Moynihan’s fifth and Dineen tied up the result with eight minutes to go even though Spillane, son of Kerry legend Tom, ended the scoring with a pair of frees.
Scorers for Corcaigh: C Moynihan 0-5, M Hurley 1-0, D O’Sullivan 0-2, M Dineen, D O’Gorman, JP Maughan, J Poland 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry South: K Spillane 0-6, L Carey 1-1, J Kiely 0-1.
CORCAIGH: C O’Driscoll; J Mullins, A Hassett, C O’Donovan; M Kenelly, M Collins, K Flahive; S O’Leary, M Dineen; D O’Sullivan, D O’Gorman, C Nolan; C Moynihan, JP Maughan, M Hurley.
Subs: C Lowney for S O’Leary, J Poland for C Nolan, S O’Leary for JP Maughan, C Nolan for D O’Sullivan, JP Maughan for D O’Gorman, JF Daly for C Lowney.
KERRY SOUTH: S Ryan; P Casey, M de Bhillís, G Evans; B Sugrue, TJ Friel, J O’Sullivan; L Carey, M Burns; T Cahill, S Sullivan, D Healy; A Quigley, K Spillane, J Kiely.
Subs: J Flynn for G Evans, R Wharton for D Healy, D Doherty for J O’Sullivan, M Keane for S Sullivan.
Referee: D Grogan (Tipperary).